Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, TGIF, The Insightful Wanderer

I Wanna See Me, Reflected #FlashbackFriday #JusJoJan

Don’t look back.

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That was the title of the song I wrote lyrics for a few years ago, a song my brother wrote and performed for a college project.

It’s a good notion, as I try to focus on my future and living my version of now, but reflection isn’t all bad.

Just Jot It January #JusJoJan

It’s exhausting really, sifting through all the memories, as I write them down for posterity. Still, I write first-person essays and other non fiction, memoir pieces. All this is most undoubtedly good practice for the book-length memoir I am determined to someday complete.

I am sometimes overly self aware, leaning heavily on reflections, in order to better see myself and others. I look back a lot, in total disregard of the lyrics I once wrote, as I reflect on the past thirty-four years. Yes, I will soon be turning thirty-four and I have a lot to look back on.

The waves of memory just keep on coming. I try to jot them down whenever and wherever I can, always holding back the force of each and every wave, so the threat of being washed away doesn’t ever come too near.

This Flashback Friday, flashing back to all the Friday’s of my past, the prompt word is “memories,” brought to us by
Cage Dunn
and feel free to share any of your own memories with me in the comments.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, TGIF, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

RESERVED! #TGIF #FTSF

There is a new coffee shop/bakery/cafe in my town. It reminds me of one I discovered and wanted to take home in my suitcase when I was in the Yukon six months back: Burnt Toast Cafe (Whitehorse) and Burnt Brick Cafe (Woodstock.

Both have similar names and beet salads. The similarities start and stop there.

Yes, while trying to envision the decor of this new cafe I have felt the brick wall next to my table. I called ahead and reserved a place. This means I was expected by the staff when I arrived, like I belonged there.

As I sit and eat my beet salad with goat cheese and candied pecans, I decide this will become my new out-of-the-home writing spot and I will be a local that will soon become a regular, maybe even with my own regularly reserved table where I will drink lattes and write all the things.

I would belong there.

When it comes to belonging, I know everyone says it, or at least feels it, at one time or another. We all struggle to belong somewhere. I am no exception.

I think of myself as a bit of a misfit and I have claimed the title with pride, though I live with feelings of not being enough or those of embarrassment a lot.

I want to blend in, to belong there, to belong anywhere. I want to be just another customer.

Customer. Decor. Furniture.

In the cafe today I was finding my way back to my table, after paying the bill, but before eating my dessert. I do hope to come often enough that soon enough I know my way around, but this was only my third time.

Friends either give me their arm, speak directions, or suddenly I am on my own, just me and my white cane.

It taps the metal of table legs and people stare.

Okay, so I don’t know if they do, or if they are nervous I might knock a table over or what, or maybe neither. Today, either way, one of the staff silently pushed me from behind in the name of guidance.

They didn’t do this violently or rudely, just in an attempt to show me how to find my table again.

And did I pull away, whirl around, and correct them, asking them not to put their hands on me without saying something?

Did I say politely that wasn’t the right way to go about that, to help the blind costumer who’d just spent $40 at their establishment?

No and no. I continued to use my cane to find my place and I sat down to enjoy my mini Oreo cheesecake.

I can’t just expect people to know the proper procedure, but it’s hard to explain, n the proper tone, in the moment.

I definitely don’t know how to blend in, to be just another customer, to feel like I fit in, when I feel like an object that must be moved. I say I feel like a misfit, or like a piece of miscellaneous furniture they move into its proper spot in their cafe so I am not in the way.

But do I even go with the rest of the place’s decor?

Hmm.

I should have explained why silently pushing me from behind was not the way to help someone, me, who can’t see. Somewhere inside I have the urge to whip around and tell them to take their hands off me. Or, that they should at least say something before doing it.

Anger and rudeness isn’t the answer. I want to soon be a regular there, to support the community, and to eat good food. Maybe I will even write great things there.

First, I must become comfortable there, with all them, and they must become comfortable with me too.

I want to belong somewhere, a community, even its businesses, such as interesting cafes like those you hear about in Paris, where people drink their lattes, observe people, and write.

Okay, so Woodstock is no Paris, but right now, I am the blind woman who clearly hasn’t figured out her way around quite yet. Friends don’t always know how to help and staff doesn’t yet know me either. If I wait, let time do its thing, I can hope to belong there, the woman who comes in with her laptop and her stick once a week, to her reserved people watching/writing/latte drinking table in the corner.

I can hope. I can dream.

I can do that. I can be. I can belong.

Finish the Sentence Friday:

Finding Ninee
and
Hillary Savoie
hosting.

I belong at this end-of-the-week blog exercise. I am back where I belong.

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FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, TGIF, Writing

The Value and the Invaluable, #FTSF

What is it that is priceless about this one, precious life?

Finish the Sentence Friday:

with Finding Ninee

and with guest sentence-thinker-upper

Mardra Sikora.

What is priceless about my violin, about Halloween 2017, and about writing?

My violin rental was my birthday present when I turned thirty-two. I chose to buy it for myself, once I learned how much I loved the challenge and wanted to keep going with it. I found a young woman who had been playing for nearly twenty years, who was a student and could use the twenty dollars a week. I admit, I get a pretty good deal there. She gets to teach me. Feel bad for her sometimes on that. I learn, but it sometimes ends up taking me a few tries, at least.

Buying a violin…hundreds of dollars. A violin lesson…$20.

The feeling of peace while I concentrate and play, the sensation of accomplished determination of practicing, and the sweet and beautiful sound of such an instrument…

PRICELESS.

Halloween this year was full of pizza and plenty of treats. The weather could have been a lot worse. It was cold, but at least there was no rain or snow. My nephew came into my house and immediately removed his socks, as he likes to do. It took plenty of gentle reminders, which turned into nagging reminders that if he wanted to go trick-or-treating, he needed to put them back on his feet.

Candy costs money. Costume making costs his mother hours of time and attention.

Hearing my five-year-old nephew counting his candy, showing up he can count all the way to one hundred (even though he may have counted some pieces of that candy more than once), and the pure innocence and recently discovered joy of the holiday in his voice…

PRICELESS.

Writing is, for me, like breathing. It’s getting to share here, to speak out on the things that matter to me, and all this is, of course, priceless.

All the courses with their enrolment fees, the expensive technological equipment I need to replace the hand/eye connection I no longer have, and the newly sought after paid work I have found and fear I will find no more of.

Writing, as breathing…

(as I’ve said)

PRICELESS.

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Oh August! #FTSF

It’s August and I get giddy at the thought of autumn approaching ever closer, like a week ago when the night air felt like fall. Others disagree strongly and hate to see summer come to an end.

Otherwise, I eat fresh peaches, on top of soft serve vanilla ice cream and I inhale the flavours, eagerly waiting for the apples of September to ripen.

But then I remember what I’ve been working on, including one project that I hope will take my writing to a whole new level and I change to a nervous, anxious feeling.

By the end of this month I will have sent in two more drafts to publications I hope to see my finish product appearing on soon. I work on these in little chunks, wanting to write convincingly on my trip to the Yukon and to accurately portray the special bond I had with my guide dog for so many years.

I must locate photos to go with my words, a task made all the trickier because I cannot see them. I must read over contracts and worry about giving up the wrong things, while also signing and returning them with my permission. Getting paid has its drawbacks, but I won’t complain, just as long as everything goes smoothly.

Seriously, I worry too much about things that might happen or not happen come September.

I won’t likely see the total solar eclipse taking place on August 21st, the one many are driving long distances to view and that which many writers will no doubt pitch and write about.

It’s August and I can’t believe my nephews are now four and five years old consecutively. This is the month of both their births. Special and memorable. The older one had a breakdown when his foil birthday balloon got caught in an updraft and was gone, “up to its home, the sun” my nephew said, between bouts of sadness and tears and a wisdom of loss he’s picked up somewhere wonderful.

Dinosaurs. Curious George. These boys make my life better.

So I’m back to deadlines and working to control my expectations and impatience. I must buckle down and write, edit, and write some more.

I am dying to announce my upcoming published pieces along with their locations. I am proud of the publications that have decided to help this newly budding writer. If I do though, I fear (logically or not) that something will go wrong and my announcement being premature.

Instead, I focus and I try my best. I fear letting someone down, myself mostly. I have, in some ways, had one of the better summers in a long time, though I won’t see the results of this until autumn comes.

It’s August, the end of another week, and time for another
Finish the Sentence Friday
with Kristi from Finding Ninee and the rest of the FTSF gang.

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My Silent Fight #Clickbait #FightClub #AtoZChallenge

What’s the first rule of Fight Club again?

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Honestly, was never a big fan of the movie on my one and only viewing, but I decided to go for the dreaded clickbait, something I usually stay far away from doing in my writing.

The A to Z Challenge – R is for Rules

But today I am breaking my own rules.

I am breaking the rule of this A to Z Challenge, which is post on the corresponding day of the month, but I didn’t feel good, didn’t feel like it, and am instead posting the following morning.

I just had a conversation with my sister about this sort of thing. I am known to family and friends and possibly vague acquaintances as the woman who is nice and polite and doesn’t make much of a fuss.

Or, just maybe I like to break that rule. Or, perhaps, I’m simply waiting for the right moment to break it.

The common rule in the writing world (though I suppose it applies to many other things) is that first you must learn the rules, before you can even consider breaking them.

Once you do that, however, break away. Rules not laws of course, but even so…even if…even sometimes then, them, or that.

So maybe I’m still learning and you just never know when I’ll know enough to break the rules I choose to finally break.

Or maybe I’ll do it, so sneakily, it will be as if to never tell I’ve done it at all.

***This is my first year of joining the A to Z Challenge and so I’ve decided to post randomly, as a way for new visitors to my blog to get to know me a little better. I look forward to discovering some interesting new blogs too.

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Stay Away From The Bleach #AtoZChallenge

The obvious choice of words for today’s letter, for me, would be literature. Oh, I do love literature – a lot to say there.

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But I decided to go with the practical and that which is at the forefront of my mind today.

The A to Z Challenge – L is for Laundry

I need to do laundry.

Not such an uncommon thing to be done, but one of the biggest topics people ask me about, as in how I handle life as a blind woman, comes down to dressing myself and doing my own laundry.

It makes a difference, if you knew how much vision I still have, but this is a strictly how-its-done post. I see slightly more when I turn on the light down by my washer and dryer.

I know my own clothes. I know when I got it, where, and I’ve likely asked what colour each piece of clothing is. I can tell if it is dark or light. I remember by the materials and the necklines and the shape of each piece. I sort into darks and lights, sweatshirts and towels, and pink/red/purples.

If all else fails, I use the handy App on my phone which takes a picture of something and, within a few seconds to a minute, a response comes back which tells me what the picture shows. This usually identifies the colour as well.

We won’t mention the time, back when I shared a house and a washing machine with my sister, that I accidentally knocked the bleach onto her pile of reds. Oops.

As a rule, no more bleach in this house. It’s just not worth it. Well, off to sort and put in my first load of things.

With a few exceptions, most things aren’t as big a deal or as difficult as people might think, but when you get asked a question enough times, you start to realize some have no idea of how things work in the world of the sightless.

***This is my first year of joining the A to Z Challenge and so I’ve decided to post randomly, as a way for new visitors to my blog to get to know me a little better. I look forward to discovering some interesting new blogs too.

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Old College Try, #Freelance #AtoZChallenge

I am no journalist.

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I write memoir, the kind of essay, nonfiction that may never bring in the big bucks.

The A to Z Challenge – F is for Freelance

My latest freelance rejection of a pitch I’d sent out, early in the week, the editor in her email response said:

“I find this story objectively interesting…”

Oh, great. That sounds positive. As long as I stayed focused on her first few lines of the email, all looked promising, but then:

“but it’s not really a fit for us. We do very few personal essay stories of this sort”.

It is my responsibility to learn what any publication I pitch publishes, what sort of pieces, and a lot are journalistic in tone. I can write, could, and maybe I will get there.

She did proceed to include in the email, a pitch doc for what she said was:

“to help shape future pitches”.

Not sure if she meant that is encouragement to try again with them in the future or just as a general tool. Either way, I appreciated the gesture.

I haven’t been able to map my writing road as such. Somehow, I ended up in a group on Facebook and there I saw editors asking for certain kinds of pieces. They were mostly about things from marginalized writers and voices and I qualified.

I had written pieces which were published on various websites, publications, and blogs, but none were paying, until this year. It’s nothing to retire on, but it felt like I was finally pulling my own weight.

So, I barely call myself a freelancer, just like I barely called myself a writer for a long long time.

Eventually, that changed. I moved up on this particular ladder. I now refer to myself as a writer. I am literary and would like to write memoirs and novels and plenty more, but if freelance work can find a spot in there somewhere too, I will do my best.

***This is my first year of joining the A to Z Challenge and so I’ve decided to post randomly, as a way for new visitors to my blog to get to know me a little better. I look forward to discovering some interesting new blogs too.

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Don’t Scoff, #FTSF

He was a friendly, grandfatherly man, the one who first made me feel safe and heard. No longer did I have to be afraid because, along with my parents, this doctor was going to do all he could for me.

***

So now I come out of surgery. My father does too. We hurt, but we were in capable hands. My father is down to one kidney and I now have three. Of course, two were the problem to begin with, and I’m left with one. I’m still running on one. Thanks to those surgeons I am where I am.

***

His soft voice was in contrast with the brighter than bright lights he shown in my eyes. The worst pain I’d ever felt, ever, and he would find out why.

Okay, not really, but he received an A for effort from this patient.

He is not going to totally save the sight I’ve got left, but maybe someone, someday can.

***

He tried all he could, x-rays held high, showing the degree my spine was curving. His Dr. name sounded like my first name. He straightened me out alright.

😉

Metal rods in. Metal rod out. I’ve got one heck of a scar running down my back, but he stopped my spine and skeletal system from crushing my lungs.

***

And when the pain came and did not go, those I met were mostly kind, when many couldn’t seem to understand why. That scares doctors, when they don’t know, and some put up a brave front, mostly bravado.

But there were those who were kind and gentle and non judgmental when I told them how much it hurt, my head, my scalp, my skin, tender to the touch. They did not scoff.

***

Medical scientists could make a baby, using modern medicine in miraculous ways. Hope replaced despair. My nephew and now my niece bring my whole family joy.

***

When my brother goes through more medical crap, things I can not protect him from, or travel the road exactly as he must do, leading the way in ways only a big sister can…it’s those we meet whom can make us better, but more likely they do their best.

That’s all any of us can do.

***

So here we are again, after last week’s
Finish the Sentence Friday,
and my idea of there possibly being more than one post to get out of the subject of the people who shape us seems to have stuck.

Things seem to happen in my family, every time she asks me to co-host.

Last time it was the birth of my niece. This time, another family medical event occurred, but I am getting back to the subject
with Kristi of Finding Ninee.

Somebody that I met changed my life, my health, and that of those I love. Somebody else did the same for my loved ones, in their moments of searching for better and for happier.

I am grateful to those medical experts and professionals who changed my life and the lives of those I love and have in my life now.

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http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=706635

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Peeps! #TGIF #FTSF

I went for the slang for my title this week, for people, but because Easter is near, all I thought about was the boyfriend from my past who loved those marshmallow bunny treats. He got so excited when he found coloured ones, and there could have been strange flavours too. He bought many packs and some went stale in the pantry.

I never could stand the things, those Peeps. Not my choice for an Easter treat. Give me some good old Easter chocolate, thank you very much.

But I like the alternative word for people.

The people we meet change us. At least, they have me, but choosing only some felt like an impossible task. Otherwise, I knew this post had the frightening potential of going on far too long and losing its impact on any perspective readers.

I started with my Easter story to begin with, to fit one more of those people in, ever so briefly, but this post isn’t about that. I simply could not neglect the connection between Peeps and peeps while I had it, right there and ready to go.

Whether it’s a chance meeting, one that lasts only minutes or hours, or one that develops into something longer term I could spend this post thanking people, as I did for my one year of blogging here.

Kind and Generous

My brother met a friend by being in an Apple store. The friend saw two blind guys looking at technology and made the decision to approach them and introduce herself. These were three people that never would have met each other and just so happened to be in that store at the same time.

I previously mentioned the kind woman and her husband who helped me out, in the Dallas Airport, out of the goodness of their hearts.

I want to write about the people I met at the writing workshop in Mexico in January. Each of them are fondly known to me now, all those I will never forget, for the things they taught me that week.

That, too, would take more than this here post. I am still working on the brevity thing. They all deserve their thanks and time. Perhaps this should be a “The People We Meet” series.

I like to sit and think, when I can’t decide which of them to write about first, on the people I’m still to meet in my life. It’s those I am not yet aware of that fascinate me, nearly as much as those I already know, because we are all unknown to one another until we’re not. Maybe that’s a sign of never being satisfied with what I have, with all those connections I’ve already been lucky to have made, but my curious mind can’t help it.

Every time a car passes I wonder who’s in it, what they like or dislike, or what they value in life. Though I may likely never know the answer to my questions about those currently passing my house in their vehicles, I will never stop wandering through life, open to any people, just as those I’ve already met were once unknown to me and me them.

So much of what is going on in the world is us all being scared, by perceived fears of terrorism or mass human migrations or whatever, but mostly by the fear of the unknown and the unfamiliar. We need to familiarize ourselves with other people. You just never know when a person you randomly meet could become one of your favourite peeps one day. This means I can capitalize the word, as mine in my own life certainly deserve that – a position to be in, so sweet, sweeter than any marshmallow.

They could eventually become someone who makes you laugh, makes you think, or makes you want to become a better human being yourself. I know all this is and has been true for me, with Mexico only one of the more recent prime examples.

For the sake of choosing one, I will focus this time on my writing mentor.

We met over social media and here online, developed a respect for each other and our writing, with a mentorship coming from that.

But it wasn’t until we met in person, were able to hug each other, and feel the physical presence of one another in the same place did I truly appreciate it all for what it was and what it could be. I will always have the greatest respect and admiration for her, with everything she does, no matter what else may happen or where life may take us.

Again, I resort to wanting to thank people, and so I wish I could lay out precisely how meeting so many of the people I’ve been privileged to meet has affected my life and the woman I am.

Most recently it’s neighbours. I am not the best neighbour, but I don’t play loud music – anymore.

I am not a bad person to live next to, especially if you like your peace and quiet. In fact, you might hardly even believe anyone (myself) even lived there.

I find it difficult, without seeing, to make first contact. It’s funny how you can be in the right place at the right time, one small window of it, and meet someone, but you could also live next door to people for years and never really speak to or know them. This time, my new neighbour introduced herself and seems to be looking out for me, before we’ve gotten to speak more than a handful of times. I take this to be a positive sign of things to come.

I may have blown it this time, with my Finish the Sentence Friday post being all over the place, but I blame that on a stomach ache and brain so full of swirling thought and a neurotic mind that thought I needed to write my FTSF post on a Friday, instead of giving it a day or two, in the hopes that I could ever possibly narrow down my stories of the people I’ve met to one lone blog post.

Plus, I had a violin lesson today and that always affects me. If it was a lesson where I couldn’t focus and nothing seemed to be working, I would feel dejected. In today’s case though, I felt it working and now I am feeling exhilarated, which both ways means I am all over the map.

While speaking of violin lessons, my violin teacher is another one of those cases of the people I am lucky to have met. Today we had a long talk about a lot, half deep violin discussion/related and assorted subject matter and half actual practicing.

I’m just glad I at least wrote something this week. I guess it’s easier sometimes to write about other people, while avoiding myself, but in the process I hope I show a glimpse of me in there somewhere too.

Thanks Kristi.

Finding Ninee is one of those peeps I have not yet met in person, but whom I feel a special bit of a bond with, just through this blogging thing and such, for the fighting she does for her son, as any parent should. I really need to write an article, one where I interview my own mother, Kristi, and other parents of children with disabilities or special needs. They are good peeps…some of the best out there.

Joining Kristi for this week’s FTSF is
Marda Sikora
who also writes about this subject.

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Salty Sweet, Bittersweet #TGIF #FTSF #pieceOfCake

My father was never the beer drinking father, like most kids had. He was the Coke drinking father who was always available to be designated driver.

“Can me and Brian split a can of Coke?” I would shout from the top of the stairs, down to my parents in the basement. We always had Coke in the house, or practically always, but I still always felt like I must receive permission from my parents to have any. I like to think I had a healthy respect for them, most of the time, asking before taking. We had a good life, but our parents taught us a healthy gratitude for everything we got.

One of us would get the can and the other, they would get the half of the can poured into a glass. It was often the two of us, brother and sister against the world.

When I was 11 I was like any other kid my age, growing up in the mid nineties, and wanting what we call, in Canada, not soda, but pop. I loved sugar, but I also craved salt.

I began to sneak those fast food restaurant salt packets. I would eat the salt off of Pretzels and I even sprinkled salt on my potato chips because they weren’t salty enough.

How many eleven-year-old kids crave salt? It would have been a tough choice, at that age, between a can of sugary pop or a bag of extra salty snacks, but, at a certain point, around age eleven, the salty snacks would have won. By necessity. Something in my body needed, demanded it.

This is what would change my life forever. I had been born blind and lived that way, just another part of who I was. After my eleventh year, there was no denying that something was very wrong.

It’s been more than twenty years since that eleven-year-old craved sugar and so much salt. My kidney disease was growing worse. The nausea was increasing. The fatigue was putting me in bed right after dinner, almost nightly, feeling so weak and unable to run and play like I’d always done, like kids did.

This was the year after I celebrated my tenth birthday, with friends at McDonalds. (A paradise and a sugar/salt lover’s dream come true.)

After the year of the Beverly Hills 90210 poster and the Mariah Carey cassette given to me for my tenth birthday…I was not well as my next few birthdays came and went. I was not expecting to spend so much time in bed, on the couch, unable to eat anything other than that salty, processed, packaged chicken noodle soup made in a pot on the stove.

Bowls and bowls of the stuff were consumed by eleven-year-old Kerry.

I will never forget what it felt like to be eleven and drifting away from any semblance of a normal childhood. The next few years would be trying ones, but I am who I am today because of it all.

Both the salty and the sweet, bittersweet memories of a childhood, never boring.

This was more of the story I’ve been writing for twenty years, the one I want to continue writing, from the year I was eleven and unwell. It was brother and sister, always, and my brother would follow my footsteps, getting sick like me, three years later when he turned eleven.

This was the prompt for
Finish the Sentence Friday
this week.

Kristi, the orchestrator of all of this, she gave me the idea to start with the can of Coke. Read her post by clicking on the link above to see where I drew tonight’s inspiration for the prompt.

What were you doing when you were eleven?

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